“Then when Herod saw that he had been tricked by the magi, he became very enraged, and sent and slew all the male children who were in Bethlehem and all its vicinity, from two years old and under, according to the time which he had determined from the magi.” (Matthew 2:16)

It is unlikely that any time of the year is more associated with joy than the Christmas season. The Christmas trees, lights, food, and gifts all declare joy. One of the most popular songs of the season declares, “There is no place like home for the holidays.”

Weeks are devoted to “peace on earth, good will toward men.” Churches talk ceaselessly about the wonders of God sending His son. Both talk and pageants include Mary, Joseph, the baby, the wise men, the angels, the shepherds, and even the animals—all declaring the joy of this wondrous event.

If one heard only what we say about Jesus’ birth, he/she might conclude it was all joy. That would be concluded only if he/she heard our version of the story and ignored all other sounds from Bethlehem.

The rage of a godless man is immune to the sounds of sorrow. Herod the Great was so insensitive, paranoid, and jealously protective of his position that he killed babies. When this crafty man angrily realized that the magi would not make it easy for him to pinpoint his opponent, he killed male infants two years of age and under. He took no chances!

He did not stop at Bethlehem! He also killed male infants in the surrounding area! Because of the insecurity of one adult, infants were killed! Do not talk to the grieving parents of Bethlehem about the joys of Jesus’ birth!

The sorrow and grief created by the loss of a child is unique! In that ancient world—without our modern medicines and procedures—the male infants survived nine months of pregnancy, birth, and perhaps several months of life. For what? Only to be torn from the arms of grieving parents to satisfy the cruelty of an insecure man!

Can you hear Bethlehem’s grief? Can you hear the sorrow created by the flash of a sword or the thrust of a spear as a family’s next generation needlessly disappeared?
In the words from Jeremiah 31:15 the author quoted this poignant statement:
“. . . she refused to be comforted, because they were no more.”

As often is the case, when God gives us a great moment of joy, Satan gives us a great moment of sorrow. Yet, Satan’s sorrow is never stronger than God’s joy! Never forget your joy is in the Lord—and keep your joy in the Lord!

David Chadwell

West-Ark Church of Christ, Fort Smith, AR
Bulletin Article, 16 February 2006

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